Podcast Video | Posted by Phil Leigh on February 20, 2008
If you would like to learn a legal way for Internet merchants to produce DVD movies on-demand, or retail outlets to burn them on premises, or consumers to download and burn them on their home computers, this interview is for you. (Part 1 of 2).
Subject: Our guest today is Jim Taylor who is the Senior Vice President and Manager of the Advanced Technology Group at Sonic Solutions. His company is a leader in multimedia software. Their new Q-flix technology enables DVDs of popular movies to be created on-demand. It can be applied to (1) Internet merchants who will use it to fill orders much like on-demand book publishing, (2) retail stores at Kiosk stands or at counters similar to photo processing labs, and (3) consumers with Internet-connected computers in their own homes.It appears that the growth of pre-packaged DVD movies has topped-out. Shipments in 2006 were basically flat with those of ‘04 and ‘05. Moreover, Wal-Mart, who is the biggest seller of DVDs, reported that sales in 2007 declined for the first time.
As a result, Hollywood studios are looking for ways to stimulate growth in the DVD market. One strategy is to sell a new version of DVD that provides higher resolution. Following a standards war, that approach seems now to be gravitating toward the Blu-ray format. Nonetheless, sales of High-Def DVDs are small and not likely to add much until more consumers buy High-Def TVs.
Another way to boost sales in the DVD marketing window is to enable the movies to be sold as copy-protected digital files. While this effort is moving forward, it is hampered by the complexities of watching the digital downloads on a television. Q-flix solves that problem, because it provides a burned DVD that will play through the television via conventional DVD players of which there are 1.2 billion in use around the World.
Phil’s Take. Ideally, when I buy a movie I’d like to buy it like I do music from iTunes or Amazon. That way there’s no need for intermediate media like a CD or DVD. However, the problem is that nobody is yet providing a convenient way to get the digital files to the television. Apple TV and Amazon/TiVo seem to get the closest, but it’s still a bit of a hassle. Unfortunately, Sonic’s Q-flix isn’t altogether satisfactory either because one must wait to complete the burning process.
The best market for Q-flix is probably the Internet merchant who wants to fill orders promptly from the Long-Tail where he cannot afford to stock inventory. The second best market might be the retail merchant like CVS or Walgreens, but if too many customers queue-up at a Q-flix enabled photo lab or Kiosk, they may have too much of a wait.